Ramadan a Month of Introspection for Muslims

By Mukhtar, Ismael | Winnipeg Free Press, July 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Ramadan a Month of Introspection for Muslims


Mukhtar, Ismael, Winnipeg Free Press


The month of Ramadan begins on Friday, July 20. Ramadan is a month greatly anticipated by Muslims around the world.

For 30 days, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is a unique month that affects every aspect of social and spiritual life of Muslims. It is a month of devotion, intense spiritual introspection, social engagement, great benevolence and overwhelming generosity. A typical day in Ramadan begins with a pre-dawn meal, followed by the dawn prayer and a full day of fasting. The day ends with families, friends and neighbours gathering for a fast-breaking meal.

Following the meal, a nightly gathering takes place at the mosques where a special congregational prayer takes place every night during Ramadan. During the day, many spend their days reciting the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an. Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important days of festivities in Islam.

Fasting in Ramadan isn't just a ritual, but a means to a greater purpose. As stated in the Qur'an, the aim of fasting is to "attain righteousness."

Fasting predates Islam and has a long history as a means of achieving spiritual efficacy. Fasting provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the willpower, to enhance endurance, to increase self-restraint and to control impulsive urges. Further, fasting opens the eyes to the struggles faced by the poor and invokes a sense of sympathy for their plight. Moreover, it creates a sense of appreciation for the good provisions of life, which many times are taken for granted and overlooked.

Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111 C.E.), the renowned theologian and mystic, in elaborating the spiritual dimensions of fasting, notes the simple abstention from food and drink is the simplest form of fasting. The real and substantive fasting is to go beyond the rituals and engage in self-restrain from evil thoughts, actions and impulses.

Ramadan brings out the best in humanity. During Ramadan, generosity peaks, people mend broken relationships, open their doors and reach out to others. …

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